“Are you cooking for an entire army?” , “Are there some distant family members visiting I don’t know about?” ,or my ultimate favourite “Gosh, your imaginary friends have quite the appetite!”. Yes, every time I cook for my family at home, which is for 4 people most of the time, I’ll always end up cooking way too much food! Better too much than too little, that’s what my mother always says. And it seems her tendency to cook gigantic portions has infected me as well. Which often leads to oh so incredibly funny remarks from my brother and father (do note the hint of sarcasm there). I know that they just like pulling my leg and that the “imaginary friends” retort is just to provoke a sarcastic response, but I can’t help but feel guilty every time I see all those leftovers lying around in the fridge. They’re staring at me. Like all those hungry little African kids with bloated tummies you see on the news. Millions of people are starving and here I am, overindulging my family with food.
I’m trying to do something about my food-portion-miscalculation, however. For the first time I managed to cook two meals in a row that didn’t result in an over-stuffed fridge! Well,how about that?! 😉
I’m sure I’m not the only one suffering from food-portion-miscalculation. (At least I hope I’m not.) So if you have the same condition, take it from me: if I can get over it, so can you!
Middle-Eastern trout with maftoul
This recipe is truly one you will cook again and again and again! The fragrant rub makes the trout incredibly tasty and moist and I just love the oversized Palestinian couscous!
Ingredients (serves 4)
• 4 trouts, scaled, gutted, cleaned
• 1 green courgette
• 1 yellow courgette
• 4 spring onions
• Fresh coriander, chopped
• 250gr maftoul
• 375 ml vegetable stock
For the rub:
• 1 red pepper
• 2 cloves of garlic
• ½ tbsp harissa
• 15gr confied lemon peel
• Coriander stalks
• ½ tsp ground cumin
1. Mix all the ingredients for the rub together in a blender until you get a thick paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Chop the courgette into 0.5 cm sliced and grill them for one minute on each side.
3. Score the skin of the fish several times. Stuff courgette slices in the body cavity of each trout. (Use the remaining courgette slices for the couscous later) Spread the sweet and spicy rub over the top of each trout and in the body cavity.
4. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for 15 minutes.
5. For the maftoul, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the couscous and lightly toast them for a couple of minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock and let it simmer for 5 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
6. Chop the remaining courgette slices in fine chunks and add them to the maftoul. Season with salt, pepper, lemon zest and ground cumin.
7. Finely chop the fresh coriander and spring onion and stir them through the maftoul.
8. Get ready to dig in!
Risotto Quattro Tomato with pesto and goats’ cheese stuffed chicken
Not one, not two, not three but FOUR types of tomatoes went into this risotto! Needless to say it was an absolute flavour bomb. The stuffed chicken breasts are so easy to make and the goats’ cheese mixture guarantees you won’t end up with dry bits of chicken but with a flavoursome and moist piece of heaven! This will definitely become a family’s favourite!
For the chicken
• 4 skinned chicken breast
• 25gr fresh goat’s cheese
• 25gr home-made pesto
• 5 sundried tomatoes( in oil ), finely chopped
• Zest of half a lemon
For the risotto
• 300gr risotto rice
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 1 can of chopped tomatoes
• 200gr cherry tomatoes
• 5 yellow vine tomatoes, quartered
• 10 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 50gr parmesan cheese
• Dried oregano
• Pinch of chili powder
• Small glass of semi-dry Madeira wine
• Vegetable stock
1. Using a sharp knife, make a deep incision down one side of each chicken breast to form a pocket in each
2. In a bowl, mix together the goats’ cheese, pesto, chopped sundried tomatoes and lemon zest then stuff the chicken breasts with this mixture. Skewer the chicken with toothpicks so the filling doesn’t seep out.
3. Fry the chicken breasts in a large frying pan for 2 minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the chicken breasts to a preheated oven at 180°C and bake for a further 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, put all the different types of tomatoes in an oven-proof dish (except the canned tomatoes) and season with salt, pepper and dried oregano. Sprinkle a generous amount of olive oil over the top and put in the oven together with the chicken. Once your chicken is cooked, the tomatoes will be ready as well.
5. For the risotto, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and sauté the garlic and onion for a couple of minutes. Add the risotto rice and fry for a further 30 seconds.
6. Add the Madeira and cook until the volume of the liquid has reduced to almost nothing.
7. Add the canned tomatoes and chilli powder.
8. Add the warm vegetable stock a ladleful at a time, stirring between each addition to allow the liquid to be completely absorbed, until the rice is cooked and all the stock has been absorbed.
9. Stir in the parmesan cheese and add the roasted tomatoes from the oven.
10. Buon appetito!